by Kevin Walsh

Scattered throughout New York City are streets that are composed entirely of steps, and steep ones at that. As a rule they were placed on hills that were too steep to build a road, yet in a rare concession to pedestrians, it was determined to allow them access to the streets denied to motor transportation.

Many of these step streets–there are dozens–are found in upper Manhattan and the Bronx, as well as northeast Staten Island, the hilliest areas of New York City. There are also a few scattered in Bay Ridge and Highland Park sections of Brooklyn.

The longest step street in the Bronx is West 230th, which connects Riverdale and Netherland Avenues in the Spuyten Duyvil section.

Starting at Irwin and Riverdale Avenues, it goes up..      …and up, past Johnson Avenue…      …and up, past Edgehill Avenue until it reaches its destination at Netherland Avenue.

Anyone wishing to take the steps regularly from the West 231st Street IRT stop all the way up the hill to the apartment houses along Henry Hudson Parkway is going to wind up with a very good heart rate. They are quite steep. In the early 2000s the steps were repaved and renovated: here are a few shots of the West 230 steps from 2003:

Along West 230th along the steps are a couple of homes accessible mainly from the stairs, built on a very steep hill.

View from Waldo Avenue

From Edgehill

View from Riverdale Avenue

Johnson Avenue

View of Riverdale Avenue

Completing its unusual nature, West 230th turns from a step street to a dirt road between Arlington and Fairfield Avenues.

In the neighboring Van Cortlandt Village neighborhood, a step street connects Orloff Avenue and Cannon Place. (Orloff Van Cortlandt, according to the Bronx Historical Society, was the first Van Cortlandt to settle in the area).

187th Street, Washington Heights

Seen from Waldo Avenue, the West 238th Street steps provide access from Spuyten Duyvil from the top of the Waldo Avenue hill to the West 238th Street IRT el station (seen faintly in the distance; circled)

As an added treat, W 215th street steps between Broadway and Park Terrace East boast some original park lampposts.

Godwin Terrace north of West 230th Street

Naples Terrace between Godwin Terrace and Broadway

Summit Place between Bailey and Heath Avenues. Note the unique lamps.

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, as you would guess from its name, is situated on a steep hill that runs between Ridge Boulevard and Colonial Road. Occasionally the hill is too steep for vehicular traffic and step streets were built there.

The 74th Street steps have been rebuilt in recent years. Residents maintain a garden.

76th Street. Two mansions look down on the hill at the top of the steps.